Imagining a future career in literature: Lucy Twigg on her experience with Turn Up for the Books

Turn Up for the Books gives 18-25 year olds in County Durham the chance to go behind the scenes of Durham Book Festival and learn more about the arts and literature industry through workshops, talks and hands-on event programming experience. Here, Lucy Twigg reflects on how meeting writers and readers fuelled her confidence to pursue her own creative path.

young programmers and event speakers pose on stage

Turn Up for the Books team with their event guest speakers

My name is Lucy Twigg, and I was one of the young programmers for this year’s Turn Up for The Books project. The programme promised to give insight into careers in literature, to demystify the world of publishing and allow us to gain valuable skills in event planning. This sounded perfect to me as I’ve often struggled to picture my future, and recently having to take a break from university has made it seem that much further off.

I have wanted to explore a career in literature for almost as long as I can remember. While I studied English literature at A level and took different online courses, there was only so much I could learn from these classes. My knowledge of the career pathways was slim. Turn Up for the Books gave us the opportunity to take part in masterclasses from individuals with their own success stories, as well as the practical experience of organising an event for Durham Book Festival.

Festival audience enjoying the Furies event

Festival audience enjoying the Furies event

We wanted to create an event to celebrate Virago press’ 50th anniversary and featured Kirsty Logan and Eleanor Crewes who spoke about their contributions to the feminist anthology Furies: Stories of the Wild, Wicked and Untamed. Getting to be part of this was so much fun and it was a real confidence boost when the event turned out to be successful.

I can’t imagine my life without creative writing. However, at the same time, it has always been hard for me to imagine a future in this field. There is a stigma hovering over the writing and journalism industry, that it is a notoriously competitive environment making it hard to get your foot in the doorway. This is true, yet I know this is what I want to pursue and Turn Up for the Books has solidified this for me. The programme has made a career in literature much more tangible thanks to the engaging masterclasses and discussions we had as a group.

There are a lot of times when creative writing can be isolating as you spend so much time crafting stories in your head. It can be easy to forget there is a world outside just your own words, which is why spaces like these are so valuable; there is so much inspiration to be found from reading from and speaking to other writers and it was so important for me to have the reminder that my dream job doesn’t have to exist in my head, that it can be reached. Overall, I am so glad I signed up for the programme and am looking forward to seeing where my writing takes me next.

Lucy Twigg

Lucy Twigg is an aspiring writer who lives in County Durham.

Turn Up for the Books was kindly supported this year by the County Durham Community Foundation and Four Seasons Healthcare.